Climate change and urban drainage : future precipitation and hydraulic impact

Abstract: Increasing global mean temperature influences the hydrologic cycle. In the 21st century, hydrologic change featuring more heavy precipitation events is very likely according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC. This change will have a great impact on urban environments and infrastructures. In Sweden, precipitation during the winter will most likely increase by as much as 30 to 50 % by the end of the 21st century, while summer precipitation will decrease in the southern and middle parts of Sweden. Recent years have seen a number of floods caused by heavy rainfalls. With climate change, the problem with floods can be expected to continue and increase. To prevent adverse damage, modelling how the changes in precipitation and temperature will influence the urban drainage systems and how measures can be taken to prevent or reduce the consequences of floods has become increasingly important. The main objective with this thesis is to investigate the hydraulic impact in an urban drainage system due to the presumed increase in intense rainfalls. Regional Climate models produce temperature and precipitation data for the future. The regional climate model RCA3 from Rossby Center at SMHI, produces data with a spatial resolution of 50'50 km and a temporal resolution of 30 min. To be able to use the climate data in urban drainage models, temporal and spatial resolution must be improved. A modification of the so-called Delta change method, where the changes are related to the rainfall intensity level, is presented to transfer the changes in rain characteristics from different future time periods to an observed series. For the study area, the climate model shows an increase of the highest intensities of up to 20 % for the 21st century. Effects of these changes are studied on an urban drainage system in the study area. Results from the urban drainage simulations show that higher water flow- ratios in pipes, longer durations of floods, and more frequent floods can be expected if the climate continues to change with more high intensity rains, as the climate models predict. The maximum water levels in nodes were significantly higher for all future time periods that were simulated. Even in the near future (2011-2040), maximum water levels in nodes were >0,1 m higher compared to today's climate. Since the renewal rate of pipes in the existing urban drainage system is relatively slow, emphasis must not lie only on city development but also on future climate change. Design criteria, therefore, need to be changed according to changes in precipitation. Weak spots in the system must be identified for the adaptation to be as effective as possible. Knowing when, where, and how to put the correct measures when adapting the urban drainage system is essential for efficient management. Climate change also affects urban drainage in different ways, depending on where in Sweden the city lies. In northern Sweden, problems can arise with changing snowmelt patterns, for example. Further research involves an analysis of the consequences that higher water levels, increased max flow, and higher seasonal variations will have and of the adaptation strategies required not only for the urban drainage systems but also for other infrastructures.